Wednesday, November 16, 2016

1830s for Christmas

Despite a crazy fall (shenanigans! upheaval! homework!), I really wanted to make a new dress for Fezziwig's Ball, our annual Dickensian extravaganza in Salem. I've had a particular image sitting on my inspiration pile for ages, for an obvious reason...

portrait by Alexandre-Jean Dubois-Drahonet
it basically fulfills all of my love of 19th century romanticized Scotland in one go, with the tartan sash and the thistle hair. I haven't been able to find much information about this portrait, but my best guess is that it was done between 1828-1831 (when Dubois-Drahonet died).

It's not a period I do, so I've never had an excuse to make an 1830s ensemble. Fezziwig's is really the only opportunity, because the dress code is just "the life of Dickens"--1830s fits the bill! So this year I decided that was going to be my one project. And I'm up and running! I am really pleased with how things are going so far.

For the actual project, I decided what I liked best about this portrait was the sheer over-layer, especially the sleeves. So I went looking for extent garments with similar features, and found a few that spoke to me:

1820s, Kent State collection
1829, Bath Fashion Museum
1830, FIT
1830s, Stete Hermitage Museum
1832, LACMA
I also found several descriptions of dresses from 1830-31 with "sheer net oversleeves," and so I decided to use bridal tulle to make the over-layer instead of something like sheer organza. I'm not sure this is really fine enough, but it looks good so far--light and floaty and almost invisible, so I'm happy with it.

I'm excited to share more progress on this project as construction continues!